Saturday, October 18, 2014

Support Fresno Chapter, California Council for the Blind

One of the best tools for a blind person to use is, apart from their white cane or guide dog, a support network.

Earlier this summer I was a little adrift as to where to go for help and just a welcoming laugh.

Then I heard that Fresno has a Chapter of the California for the Blind (CCB).

The group recently arranged a fundraiser for the Chapter and I was able to attend. The group offers lots of social help, someone has most certainly already overcome a problem which you are encountering or at least knows a way to get past any obstacles  either with government bereaucracy or just how to get that particular new app to work on your iPhone.

I do design some Teeshirts and have come across a crowd funding Teeshirt printer.

You can help me raise some extra much needed fundds for this great chapter to expand its work in both the sighted and blind communities in and around Fresno.

See the Teeshirt, hoodie or garment of your choice at Support is the Best Tool T-Shirt

Please feel free to share or tweet the link. We need only sell 50 products to support this great group.

For more information on the  Fresno Chapter of CCB See their Facebook Page

Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Result of the Low Vision Assessment

Last Wednesday saw me  going to visit a low vision specialist. After being legally blind for five years just the suggestion to go seemed odd, but I am glad that I did go.

We arrived for the appointment bright and early, people here in the U.S. will know going to a new doctor is a hassle with lots of paperwork at the reception describing you medical history.

After my wife filled in all the forms, we went to have my eyes checked for the curve of the eye, eye pressure and such. I had the curve of my eye measured in a machine which held my head in a headrest and then a lens moved in front of my eyes. The machine didn't touch my eye, I am guessing it uses something like a low power laser to measure the distance to the eye.

Then it was into the consulting room with the doctor. He was very pleasant, asked me to go through my particular history of eye problems and then asked me to read an eye chart.

Of course I saw nothing with my left eye, and was able to use some of my right eye peripheral vision to see the charts largest letter dimly.

His assessment was that I have 2800 vision in the right eye, that is well into the realm of legally blind, which I believe is at 200.

Then seemingly inspired he placed a lens in front of my right eye. Suddenly the eye chart cleared and I was able to say that there were two letters on the second line.

So with correction my vision improved to 2400. Still legally blind but "What the Hec!" I saw a second line for the first time in five years.

It seems that no one had recalled that I had been short sighted in the right eye prior to my central retinal vein occlussion, the measurement of the curvature of my eyes had shown this short sightedness, which of course can be treated with glasses.

I will still only have peripheral vision in the right eye, the macular in that eye is destroyed by the blood clots of the CRVO and has been dead for over ten years.

So then the doctor moved over to trying a variety of hand held lenses to help me see, but these didn't work as I have large areas of damaged tissue in the retina which means my vision is a little like looking through a Swiss Cheese. Then he moved me to a monitor and closed circuit television system because of the wider angle of view, my brain could reasonably fill in the blanks of my vision. So he will be suggesting a CCTV enlarger be suitable for me too.

From this one visit I gained a lot of information. The blurredness I see now is mainly the short sightedness, not blindness and easily treatable.

That there is help out there even if sometimes you need to ask several times for it.

"Keep Calm and Have A Cup of Tea "Mug  Available from my Zazzle Store

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Going For A Low Vision Assessment

I find it a little hard to believe that today, after five years of being legally blind, that today I am actually going for an official low vision assessment test.

You would think a test to see if low vision aids or such might have been attempted before. But I guess in my case this slipped through the cracks of bureaucracy. My problem seems to have been that I just about went blind at the wrong time. Is there ever a good time? That is a rhetorical question and made with tongue firmly in my cheek. But 2009 coincided with a budget crisis here in California as well as the global financial crisis. So put in context, a single man going blind is a little concern for the world.

Anyway at that time I did get some aid $24.00 to buy a white cane. Though the check did not arrive until late 2010, and six hours training on how to use a white cane properly. Eeeek I was so naive about going blind back then it is scary to think of how little it really seemed to have caused me to react.

Anyway, earlier this year, my wife, Leif my guide Dog and I visited The Lighthouse for the Blind in San Francisco, actually to see their gadget store, when we happened to ask about services. We were amazed to find there are real services out there, provided with the help of a wide circle of advisory groups, from Orientation and Mobility (O & M) through instruction in cooking and daily living skills, to workplace training to help you keep your job or find another job.

This all begins with a visit to the Department of Rehabilitation here in California.

We all went to the Department of Rehabilitation back at the beginning of July. But the reception we got there was less than helpful, so as we live in Fresno County a trip to Valley Center for the Blind seemed to be the order of the day. Inspired it seemed at the time.

In fact we got to see an advisor from the  Department of Rehabillitation within 24 hours rather than the 6 weeks or more promised at the D. of R. itself.

Then we got to fill in the required forms with the advisor, who is also blind, and her assisstant.

Now just over three months later, the work is bearing fruit, today sees me having a low vision assessment, soon I will be having training in the workplace and  daily living skills training.

This part of the blog is sure to expand. As I will be taking you along with me to some of the training sessions with me.

 To read more see The Result of the Low Vision Assessment.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Blindness. A Punishment from God?

Recently I have met several people, who seem to me to have made comments that see my blindness and the blindness of others as a punishment from God.

The thing is they conclude this idea for themselves, making comments like; "You will need to pray for God to forgive you." or "God will let you see eventually, when you accept his love."

But then they fail to ask me, if I see blindness as a punishment.

In short no blindness is not a punishment from God, Nature or any other supernatural source. Blindness is just something that can happen, accident, illness or deliberate injury. Blindness happens.

If God wanted to punish me, blindness would not be they way to do that. In fact for me, my blindness has been a positive matter in my life.

I cannot think of one area of my life which has not changed for the better now I have become blind.

This is not to say there are not times when blindness can bring about frustration. But frustration is fleeting. Punishment is long lasting and interminable. Punishment is demoralizing and leads you away from life. Blindness doesn't do any of these things.

Those who have said that my blindness is a punishment are often surprised when I say that I see blindness as a blessing. They think that I must be mad. After all I now live in a world of the sighted but I cannot see.

But I do live in a sighted world. Of course I do. But I LIVE. Blindness took away my sight, nothing else. I have memories, friends, a loving family and a handsome guide dog. That most of those came after I went blind is for me the blessing.

If God had wanted to punish me would He have given me all those things?

Blindness raises a lot of fear in those who are not familiar with blind people.  In the end don't let others perceptions of what you are be your guide. Look to your own knowledge about yourself and your life to create you world. You don't even have to believe in a Christian God, you can believe in whatever you like, as long as you are happy and comfortable with your own blindness, it is not a punishment, it is just a part of you and frustrating as it is there is a great deal to be positive about.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Fantasy Football and other Stories⌠█

You know your in trouble as a human being when suddenly your dog is beating you at fantasy football, when you go to a restaurant and people ask to pose with your guide dog in a photograph and your guide dog is invited to your local middle school soccer team practices because he walked over the pitch one day and the team won so he is now their lucky mascot.

I never imagined that these things would ever come to pass one year ago, as I waited anxiously for the 21st October to come around.

Then my guide dog would just be a guide, I could go out and work with him or her. Life would stay the same but get a little better.

Now life is completely different. Despite the Chicago Bears beating the San Franciscco 49ers the other week, Leif still won our Fantasy game and we are now going into week four with Leif at 3 wins to my 3 losses.

Last week-end my wife, Leif and  I were waiting to go into a restaurant for a meal and a complete stranger said how handsome he is. Then asked to have my wife  take a photograph of Leif and their party. So Leif is definitely gaining celebrity status.

Most fun though,  is the reaction of the local middle school boys soccer team. Leif was at the school with my wife a couple of weeks back while I was in hospital. She and Leif walked across the soccer pitch as the boys practiced. One or two of the boys patted Leif and the next day won their game.

Do you see where this is leading?

The next week the same happens. This week the boys asked for Leif to watch a home game from the sidelines. We attended, it was fun, the weather cool and nice to be outside. The boys played their hearts out and won in style.

Of course to them their own skill was only the partial cause. Leif was the galvanizing factor.

So anyone out there thinking of applying for a guide dog. Be prepared for celebrity in your midst. Being a lucky charm and losing to the best darn pickers of quarterbacks, tight ends and defensive linemen in the nation.